Enemy at the Gates: Dissecting Rhetoric in Aftermath of Arrest

Cop union: We shouldn't be second guessed

The Gates Debate, the aftermath of the recent arrest of African-American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police, seems to have everyone buzzing about issues that have nothing to do with the fundamental “facts” of the case and has merely become a pretext for individuals to get some shine time in the light of lime since the topic has been hot-button enough to get a presidential perspective.

Among some of the more asinine comments to emerge in the fray comes from David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, who told reporters that, in light of President Obama’s comments, cops may actually question their actions in the line of duty.

"What we don't need is public safety officials across the country second-guessing themselves," said Holway.

 Really? That’s exactly what we need! If better judgment were used in the Gates situation, this discourse would not be happening, but maybe that is the point; that this conversation needs to happen.

First of all, President Obama was right: Officer Crowley acted “stupidly.” Notice, the President did not say he was stupid, but “acted stupidly” and according to definitions of stupid such as lacking keenness of mind; foolish; senseless; annoying or irritating -- the officer’s actions fit the criteria.
Putting the race issue aside, this was about pride and ego on both sides, and since officer Crowley was so empowered, without any regard to the sanctity of the homestead, he won the chest-puffing contest by using his ability to arrest Gates to put him in his place for daring to challenge his authority. But bringing race back into the equation, one can’t help but imagine a different outcome had it been Euro-American householder.

There is nothing demonic about police “second-guessing” themselves, especially in situations such as the Gates debacle, which was infinitely removed from a life and death crisis. With his press-grabbing statement, Mr. Holway reinforces the stereotype that law enforcers think they are above the very law that they enforce, and that there is no need for better judgment.

Dasun Allah, former editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, is a freelance writer from Harlem whose work has appeared in numerous media outlets including The Village Voice and is featured in Hip Hop Weekly.

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